News and happenings about First Things First

February 2022

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New Leader Chosen to Head FTF

The First Things First Board recently selected Melinda Morrison Gulick as the agency’s next Chief Executive Officer. Gulick is an active contributor to community and business organizations, and focuses her passion and energy on education, young children, healthcare, a strong local economy and the environment.
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Statewide assessment will be useful for those who teach children before they reach kindergarten

A statewide Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) was recently funded as part of Arizona’s early literacy initiatives. Teachers will use this school readiness tool during the first months of kindergarten to learn how to best support their new students. For preschool teachers, the data can provide insight into how they can help young children develop the skills needed for success in kindergarten.
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Early childhood supporters encouraged to remind families about expanded Child Tax Credit

In 2021, the federal American Rescue Act expanded the Child Tax Credit that parents can receive. For families with children birth to age 5, it accounts for $3,600 per child per year, an increase of $1,600 per child. While most families got the 2021 advance payments automatically, families who had not filed recent tax returns need to act to get the credit.
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Great childhoods are made here.
They’re made in the first five years. In all the simple, everyday moments that add up to what young kids need to be ready for success in school and in life.

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News Round-Up

News about early childhood around Arizona and across the U.S.

Cost of infant child care is more than in-state tuition, nonprofit says
12News, Feb. 4
A study from the Economic Policy Institute says that infant child care in Arizona costs more than college tuition. “Quality care for infants, toddlers and preschoolers is out of reach for many Arizona families,” said First Things First Chief Policy Advisor Liz Barker Alvarez.
Developmental milestones just changed for the first time in years
The Washington Post, Feb. 10
For the first time in decades, the nation’s top pediatricians have changed the checklist of developmental milestones for infants and young children to make it easier to identify delays that could be a sign of autism or other social-communication disabilities.
Cash aid to poor mothers increases brain activity in babies, study finds
The New York Times, Jan. 24
A study that provided poor mothers with cash stipends for the first year of their children’s lives appears to have changed the babies’ brain activity in ways associated with stronger cognitive development, a finding with potential implications for safety net policy.
Parents and caregivers of young children say they’ve hit pandemic rock bottom
National Public Radio, Jan. 20
The people who take care of and educate children under 5 years old — both parents and providers —are in a special kind of hell right now. These children are too young to be vaccinated, and it’s difficult for them to wear masks consistently. Many child care directors are following 10- to 14-day quarantines and closing entire classrooms after a single positive test, which has caused nonstop disruptions.
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